YNP : 8/31-9/7 : Heart Lake to Nine Mile via CDT, South Boundary and Thorofare

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Jul 3, 2019
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Hello All,

I am going to head to Yellowstone for the first time to hike with my son for 8 days in the backcountry. I would love some feedback, things to look out for, etc.

Here is our route in Gaia: Gaia Route Map

The game plan is as follows:

8/30: Land in Bozeman around 11am, pick up bear spray, head to the Mammoth backcountry office to pick up our permits, then head to Pahaska Tepee Resort to eat and get our gear in order.

8/31: Leave our car at the Nine Mile TH and get shuttled over to the Heartlake TH. Hike down to Heart Lake and camp at 8J4 (Heart River) - ~12 miles

9/1: Hike down the Heart River and the Fox Creek Trail to 8C9 (Crooked Creek) - ~11.5 miles

9/2: Head down to the South Boundary trail and head east to Mariposa Lake and do some catch and release fishing, camping at 6M3 - ~6.5 miles

9/3: Continue East on SBT to the Thorofare and camp at 6T1 (South Thorofare) - ~9.3 miles

9/4: Join the Thorofare Trail at the ranger station and start heading north to 6D2 (Mountain Creek Ford) - ~8 miles

9/5: Continue north stopping at 6B1 (Lower Ford) for the night - ~6.5 miles

9/6: Head up the eastern shore of the lake to 5E8 (Park Point South) - ~13 miles

9/7: Finish up with ~6 miles to the Nine Mile TH and go get a beer and a shower.

So that's the plan currently. Originally I wanted to head south down the Thorofare and West down SBT to South Entrance but the sites were not available. The backcountry office reversed the route but once I looked into the climb heading west to east over Big Game Ridge at ~10,000 after only acclimating for a day and a half (I live at sea level), I thought it best to take the current route which skirts around that climb (much to my son's dismay at my pansyness).

I feel like we are prepared, I have a lot of backcountry hiking experience on the Florida Trail and a couple hundred AT miles. I just got trained in basic life support including tourniquet, splinting, chest decompression, CPR etc and we will also have an inReach mini with us. We'll each have bear spray. Biggest concerns for me are how much more strenuous hiking in the mountain west is than hiking in Florida (I'm about 50 pounds overweight). I'll do 90-100 mile stretches of the FT without a problem but that is flat and at sea level. My son is 20 and in great shape so he'll be fine. Only other concern is my shoe situation. As I mentioned on the Gear forum, hiking in hilly terrain has shown me that my shoes don't actually fit correctly as my feet slide forward so I'm working on that with some advice from folks here.

It sounds like the father/son trip of a lifetime and I can't wait to be deep in the wilderness surrounded by so much beauty.
 
@tropicalwanderer From reading your post, you are probably well aware of this, but some big mile days there especially early on, but the hike into Heart Lake is fairly easy, even at altitude. Good mix of long days and short overall. Not too much to look for except crossing the rivers. If August is wet (not typical), they'll be up. If you haven't found it already, go to the Yellowstone Backcountry Situation Report before you go to catch the latest conditions.

Keep your ears alert to elk bugling, it should be starting by then and you could hear some along the upper Thorofare, if not elsewhere. And make sure your bear spray is on your waist belt or shoulder strap from the git go, and ready to go.

Great trip, good luck, and yes, it should be the father/son trip of a lifetime, good for you both!
 
@tropicalwanderer From reading your post, you are probably well aware of this, but some big mile days there especially early on, but the hike into Heart Lake is fairly easy, even at altitude. Good mix of long days and short overall. Not too much to look for except crossing the rivers. If August is wet (not typical), they'll be up. If you haven't found it already, go to the Yellowstone Backcountry Situation Report before you go to catch the latest conditions.

Keep your ears alert to elk bugling, it should be starting by then and you could hear some along the upper Thorofare, if not elsewhere. And make sure your bear spray is on your waist belt or shoulder strap from the git go, and ready to go.

Great trip, good luck, and yes, it should be the father/son trip of a lifetime, good for you both!

@Outdoor_Fool Thanks for the feedback! Yep, I had hoped to have shorter days early on but the campsite availability made that not possible. And we'll definitely have our bear spray accessible in the front somewhere.
 
Tropical Wanderer, it looks like you have a great trip planned. Do Enjoy!!!! Now have been everywhere back in that country and it is indeed fabulous! The weather is looking great so far and hope you have a fabulous trip! In several places that you will be going thru, have seen Grizzlies, so be on the lookout! Some years ago I was at 5E8 there at Park Point South on Yellowstone Lake. I had several Grizzlies (Mother Sow and cub(s) wander into my camp during the night. Once they saw my camp, they fled from the scene quickly. I was in my tent at the time. On a trip when I was camped at Crooked Creek which I see that you are also, I heard Elk Bugling this night all freaking night long with into the next morning. It was incredible! Also at Heart Lake, if you are into birds, there is usually some Common Loons at Heart Lake. And that time when you are in the Thorofare itself, Do Enjoy for how much is it Paradise! There used to be a wolf den not far from 6T1. I don't know how things are there right now for have not been there in the last couple of years. But be aware and on the lookout and you might spot those wolves that call the Thorofare 'Home'. Several times in my life have I hiked this route at the same time of year. And each of those trips turned out utterly fabulous! You will be undoubtably be having a Great Great Time! Looking forward to your trip report and seeing your photos afterwards.

Wishing You the Best!!!!
 
Nice Photos Scatman ... they bring back memories. Thanks.
 
Tropical Wanderer, it looks like you have a great trip planned. Do Enjoy!!!! Now have been everywhere back in that country and it is indeed fabulous! The weather is looking great so far and hope you have a fabulous trip! In several places that you will be going thru, have seen Grizzlies, so be on the lookout! Some years ago I was at 5E8 there at Park Point South on Yellowstone Lake. I had several Grizzlies (Mother Sow and cub(s) wander into my camp during the night. Once they saw my camp, they fled from the scene quickly. I was in my tent at the time. On a trip when I was camped at Crooked Creek which I see that you are also, I heard Elk Bugling this night all freaking night long with into the next morning. It was incredible! Also at Heart Lake, if you are into birds, there is usually some Common Loons at Heart Lake. And that time when you are in the Thorofare itself, Do Enjoy for how much is it Paradise! There used to be a wolf den not far from 6T1. I don't know how things are there right now for have not been there in the last couple of years. But be aware and on the lookout and you might spot those wolves that call the Thorofare 'Home'. Several times in my life have I hiked this route at the same time of year. And each of those trips turned out utterly fabulous! You will be undoubtably be having a Great Great Time! Looking forward to your trip report and seeing your photos afterwards.

Wishing You the Best!!!!

@Kmatjhwy Thank you for the feedback. I am very excited about this trip with my son. We are both excited about possibly seeing grizzlies but right now at the top of my list is hearing the elk bugling all night! I am not getting my hopes up about seeing wolves but that would be the icing on the cake. I didn't think that there was a pack down south that way. Everything I had read made me think they were really focused in the Lamar and Hayden valleys. Trip report to follow as soon as I get back!
 
Good luck and hope you have a great trip @tropicalwanderer!! This will be a trip you and your son will remember forever. He is the perfect age for a trip like this. Hope you see a bear so that your Dad reflexes kick in and you feel that adrenaline rush (those that have come across a Grizz in the backcountry with their own kid know what I mean) Looks like I will just miss you by a day in the Heart Lake/Snake river area. Maybe I'll signal you from the firetower on Mt Sheridan, lol.
 
Good luck and hope you have a great trip @tropicalwanderer!! This will be a trip you and your son will remember forever. He is the perfect age for a trip like this. Hope you see a bear so that your Dad reflexes kick in and you feel that adrenaline rush (those that have come across a Grizz in the backcountry with their own kid know what I mean) Looks like I will just miss you by a day in the Heart Lake/Snake river area. Maybe I'll signal you from the firetower on Mt Sheridan, lol.

Sounds good @CodyL; hope you have a great trip as well!
 
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